Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
Liked This Beer
3.65 w/ 4,300 Ratings
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.

We began brewing this one at our pub in 1996 (we began packaging and selling it sometime in 1998) as the answer to the question, "What beer should I enjoy with a wood-grilled steak?" Raison D'Etre fits the bill. It's as tasty and complex as a fine red wine.

In the Quick Sip Clip video, Sam talks about Raison D'Etre inside the new cellars for our 600-bbl fermentation tanks. The cellars were designed specifically to allow sterile yeast management. The system also allows us to automatically dose the yeast into the fermentation tanks. At Dogfish, we use multiple strains of yeast for our different beers, so we are acutely aware of all that can go wrong when you don't love and protect the yeast.

25 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-09-2001

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,300 |  Reviews: 1,773
Photo of russpowell
3.81/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours ruby red to chestnut with a 3 fingers+ sand/pink colored head in my La Chouffe wine goblet style glass. Good lacing & minimal head retention

Smell: Some barely discernable slighlty musty & leather notes

Taste:Malty caramel notes folowwed by choclate, leather & yeasty flavors Finishes with fruitty wine-like notes & dryness

MF: A little thin for the the style, but very good carbonation

Drinks easy for the strength, dut doesn't quite pull together for me

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Photo of murrayswine
3.91/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured a beautiful amber with a nice white head and steady lacing.

The smell. It's metallic. Thats it. Metallic malt.

The taste is rather different than the smell. The presence oa a spice and soft dark friuts mixed with a subtle molassis sweetness. Well developed taste.

Mothfeel is nice, steady and pleasing. It's keeping me sippin'.

All around, it's a damn nice beer with a good easy finish!

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Photo of rarevos
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Poured a deep reddish-brown. Very temporary head, little to no lacing.

S: Prunes, malt, toffee. Perfectly balanced.

T: A hint of chocolate in the finish, particularly as the beer warms. Enjoyed the last half of the beer more than the first because of this. Somewhat invigorating, no bitterness to speak of. Despite the high alcohol content, no alcohol flavor (or aroma).

M: Not syrupy despite the sweet aroma and flavor. A bit flat by the end, but I drew this one out, so that's my own fault.

D: Pretty filling, actually. Not a beer I'd have several of in a row, but still very pleasant.

Notes: Frankly, for the price, I prefer the Ommegang, which also happens to be more easily available in my region.

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Photo of NolateM
3.47/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance of this beer was literally near perfect. Poured into a weizen glass (just cuz I like weizen glasses, even though I don't like most wheat beers), it had the most beautiful rich mahogany color I've ever seen in a beer, with a SLIGHTLY tan, mostly white head. The head sorta disappeared after a sip, but a thin layer lingered around for a while (which I always find quite nice), not too much lacing though.

The aroma wasn't particularly impressive. Alcohol and yeast basically, it didn't have me too excited.

On the first sip I went "Hey, I like this!" Definitely can taste the raisins, some caramel notes, and alcohol presence. It reminded me a little bit of a milder version of Ommegang, actually. A few sips in though, the flavor seemed a bit weak for some reason, as if it were a bit watered down. I'm not sure why the first sip had me so impressed, but then eventually I started going "meh." Although when I paired it with a piece of sharp cheddar, the flavor seemed to improve again.

One thing I will definitely give this beer a ton of points for is the mouthfeel. It has the cleanest finish I've ever even imagined in a beer. Not a hint of lingering bitterness or dry-mouth feeling whatsoever. I've never had a beer quite like that before.

I'd say give it a try, it ain't too shabby, just not particularly as full-bodied as I'd expected.

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Photo of blitz134
3.72/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Received in 2MBBIF from Vancer...thanks...

Brownish, red body. Perfectly clear. Very light tan head, not much formed on the pour and only left a ring around the glass with a skimming of bubbles on the top.

I think this smells really good although varies a bit from the typical aromas of the style. Sweet and inviting. Tons of complexity at the temperature I have it at. The golden raisins are definately present along with some unripe plums. Sugary sweet but still has an earthy, nutty malt undertone. Sweet alcohol rears its head as well. Unique.

Taste has some darker fruit aspects, raisins again, but more of the dark variety. I think the beet sugar is obvious to, its a more pungent dark brown type sugar as opposed to the sweeter candylike sugar used in most Belgians. A bit of earthiness again comes in with the malts. Finish has a typical Belgian twang, most likely from the yeast. An alcohol twang (sorry for the use of twang more than once) is present as well. Overall a good flavor but has this twangy, funkiness that is a little to forward. I think its a bit unbalance with its sweetness.

Mouthfeel is decent, medium bodied. Not much carbonation. Drinkability suffers from the twang and the hint of alcohol in the flavor, it makes this one a bit rough around the edges. A bit too sweet to have more than one. Good and I'd have another at some point...just not tonight.

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Photo of maundythirsty
2.14/5  rDev -41.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

12 oz. bottle into a goblet.

It's a beautiful crystal-clear dark mahogany color. That's how they describe it on the label, and they're not screwing around. The head fell in a hurry, but clung to the glass and built little islands here and there. I got excited, because I'd heard good things.

It smells like raisins and Dimetapp. Like malted raisins and Dimetapp. I was surprised at how powerful the raisins were, and maybe thinking that I read the label a little too carefully.

Maybe I wasn't in the mood for what the beer was presenting, but I went right back to the label. This beer tastes like beet sugar, green raisins and medicine. And not in a good way. I hate to be so harsh, but I did not finish it. Mouthfeel was a little syrupy, but not uncomfortable.

After a half-dozen sips I figured I'd wait for some other time to try another bottle before reviewing it, but I'm not sure I want to drink another. I don't know where they're going with this stuff. I was so powerfully repelled that I feel like I have to give it another shot, but it will be a while.

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Photo of jwff
3.66/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Honestly the last color I'd expect this beer to be was red, but it works. A nice dark red tint with a fleeting head that spottily covers the top and loads of beautiful bubbles streaming upwards. Smell is of cherries and syrupy chocolate with a bit of yeast thrown in for good measure. Overall though it's kind of medicinal. Taste is along the same lines except richer and more balanced. Cocoa seems to round out this one with dark malts and a faint hint of cherry tartness mixed with a dulling raisin character. Balanced in the mouth and avoids being overly think/syrupy while retaining the high abv. Another offering from DFH that manages to completely alienate the diabetics.

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Photo of HoustonTX
4.03/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Amazing pour. Deep brown, with a red tint. Slight head, with prominent lacing.

S - Plums/Raisins and dark grains.

T - Very different, tastes almost stout like. Rich on the palate and extremely complex. Raisins/Hops/Sugar, all blended to create a well balanced flavor, very unique.

M - Full and creamy.

D - The 8% is well masked, and these have a wonderful flavor.

Dogfish Head makes some amazing brews, and this is definitely one of them. Try one of these for a unique experience.

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Photo of KFaulkner
3.33/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

As a big fan of the Dogfish Head Brewery, I was excited to try this unique brew. And unique is an understatement.

The first thing that struck me was the color; it's gorgeous. A reddish-brown that just screams "drink me!" The smells is kind of earthy and not particularly hoppy. I know the Dogfish guys like taking risks, so this is something different by far.

The beer itself is a little thicker than I expected; it's relatively filling. The taste is very unique. I'm not sure that I can specifically taste the green raisins, but the taste is different. It goes down smooth and has a nice mouthfeel, but as I said, it's a little filling.

The 8% ABV is masked well by the complex flavors present in this beer. I would recommend trying this to anyone who is a big fan of unique craft beers; but probably not the best for those of you who still insist on Miller Lite when bellying up to the bar. All in all though, another fantastic achievement by the Dogfish guys. Salute!

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
3.85/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vom fuss at The DFH Alehouse in Gaithersburg MD Served in a Pt glass. The color is a deep dark brown with amber hues. The head was small light tan and fades to a nice simple lace.

Smell is of dark fruit and alcohol.

Taste is warm alcohol like with fruit. Some what smooth but not enough malt and hops, but not bad either, saved by the darker roasted malts.

Mouthfeel not bad, average nice body.

Drinkability is not very high as the alcohol taste and the dark fruit are not very exciting.


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Photo of Naes
2.26/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

This beer pours out brown in color with hues of orange and red. It has a tall off-white head that retains and laces well.
The aroma is sugary sweet and has notes of wine grapes and raisins.
The flavor is very fruity with a strong caramel malt presence. The alcohol is noticeable, but the flavor remains dominated by sugary sweet malts.
The mouth feel is thick and becomes a bit syrupy.
Overall, this one is just over sweetened for my likings.

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Photo of BeerRun13
3.28/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a very nice clear deep auburn. A small off white head produces good lacing.
A sharp raisiny alcohol aroma with maybe a touch of chocolate.
Something just really misses out here, but I'm going to really contribute it to the mouthfeel. I taste the raisiny chocolate flavor which is good, but I think the flavor flattens out a bit because of the mouthfeel. It is still a decent flavor that tastes like something between a Barley Wine and a Stout.
I think it's maybe a bit undercarbonated, it just has a flat feel to it. Flat and syruppy. I hope this is just my bottle, and would try it again.
Is an okay beer. Would be more drinkable and tasty with a little more fiz.

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Photo of Cresant
4.23/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a goblet from the tap at O'Shea's Irish Pub.

No head when it arrived at the table. Some foam ring remained but eventually disapated. Body was a rich red/brown.

Aroma was mild, pleasant, & sweet.

Taste was of hints of prunes and citrus, the alcohol was well hidden. Not too sweet.

Mouthfeel was incredibly smooth, without feeling thick. Very low carbonation.

Very drinkable! A real surprise. I expected a heavier beer. I ordered it on name alone--Dogfish Head. I'm glad I did. I will go back for more.

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Photo of clickpush
4.23/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pour: 12oz bottle to pint glass. Comes out a very clear, "deep mahogany" color w/ a finger of off-white head that settles into a frothed-milk thickness then into a complex array of lacings and bubbles that are soapy looking and iridescent. Average looking carbonation within the glass.

Nose: Smells very sweet - of malt and sugar, vanilla, fruit juice, coffee and bananas!

Mouth: The beer enters with sharp carbonation that melts into a great creaminess on its way back, but still manages to keep some sparkle to tickle under the tongue and on the roof of the mouth. Very sweet, toffee like malts and grape juice flavors. Has a slight presence of plastic in the swallow, but even this is hardly disagreeable. It's very complex and fruity - beyond just grapes. It reminds me of a barley wine, and finishes with a vanilla/banana tainted alcoholic warmth on the exhale.

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Photo of Drew966
2.86/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Dogfish Head Raison D'etre pours a mahogany brown with a fluffy light brown head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. The smell is on the sweet side, with alcohol being noticeable. Flavor is estery at first, with alcohol and raisons being next up. The finish is kind of malty. Some burn from the alcohol is noticeable after the finish. Well it's different, not really my thing. Worth a try, but really didn't do it for me.

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Photo of ReDave
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark cream colored head, that doesn't last. no lace. aroma malty with some other sweetness noticed. Different flavors hit you at once. a bitterness that isn't typical hoppyness. slight alcohol feeling in the back of throat. very different tasting. Has some Belgian influences, but more fruitiness.

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Photo of DaggerEyes
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

brown 12 oz bottle poured into a chalice

Dark brown with some golden ruby hints when held up to the light. A small fizzy head rises and disappates into decent soapy looking lacing on the surface.

Nose of grape, bubblegum

Carmel, raisin, bubblegum and alchohol are present on the taste. Not anywhere near as tasty as I remember this being a few months back...perhaps since I've been experiencing a a lot more the world of craft brewing has to offer I've become a far harsher critic.

Nice amount of carbonation active on the tounge but the body feels a bit thin. Nice finish.

All in all not a bad beer to kick around with, have with a burger, but nowhere near as good as it was when I was newer to the craft brew scene and not the "best beer in america" as it claims on the six pack carton.

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Photo of MarineHokie
4.01/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Clear deep mahogany. Head bubbles up to nearly 2F then quickly subsides to a thin cream colored ring, thin streams of bubble rise continuously.

S - Sugary malts mix with light vinious rose-like aromas.

T - Dark chocolate, dried fruit, and cola initially, lots of complex but cohesive flavors going on, then a light coffee-like bitterness on the finish.

M - Meduim heavy body is lightened somewhat by sparkling carbonation.

D - More easily quaffable than the traditional examples of the style. Would pair well with and/or adapt to many different dishes.

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Photo of aforbes10
3.76/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bought just a single bottle because i'd heard bad things about this beer and i didn't want to waste my money. but after having tried it, i can say that i thought it was quite tasty and worth my money after all. there's a lot of malty, choco-qualities in it and while i didnt really taste raisens, i did get some sort of sweet fruit taste that was nice. a very hearty, tasty beer that i can't find anything to really complain about.

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Photo of hopsaplenty
4.17/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle, 'Packaged in' info on label was not punched

Pours a velvety smooth, clear amber with some rich gold highlights. Short, sand colored head of tiny bubbles vanished in a flash and left a thin ring around the edge. Several active carbonation streams shoot bubbles to the surface. No lacing. Sweet, jammy smell with a slightly smoky alcohol soaked edge. Rich, sweet, dark fruit is featured prominently up front. A thick, warming alcohol presence permeates all corners of this. The finish is full of heavy, sweet fruit notes. An alcohol tone lingers, along with some cookie spiciness as well. Mouth coating, lush, smooth, mouthfeel with minimal carbonation. Pillowy soft on the tongue. Enjoyable and drinkable.

Keep on the lookout for its big brother, D'Extra, on draft which is not to be missed.

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Photo of bigman147
3.11/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pour - Pours a deep ruby red/brown with little to no lacing. Zero head retention and carbonation seems very fake (pours like a soda).

Aroma - Malty, slightly burnt. Slightly fruity (raisins)

Taste - Good overall complexity. Hints of coffee, raisins, and dark fruit. Subtle sweetness that controls the burnt maltiness.

Mouthfeel - Highly carbonated, very alcoholic finish. Very smooth almost watery. I had hoped for a lot more body to this but I think with the additions of beet sugars, etc., its safe to assume that the body was going to be weaker.

Drinkability - Its tasty but I don't think I could have more than one in any one sitting. Its high ABV% and high carbonation made it difficult to really thoroughly enjoy. There is also a burnt coffee note that lingers a little too long on the palate

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Photo of beermanbrian
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep mahogony color. Head falls to a thin ring around the glass. Smell of some dark fruits and some heavy dark malts. First impression when i take a drink is a crisp bite right up front. The taste that follows is an earthy taste. Alcohol gives a little warming sensation on the finish. I'm kind of on the fence on this one. A nice beer that i could see enjoying on occasion but not as a regular.

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Photo of TexIndy
2.42/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured a deep mahogany from a 12 oz dated bottle. Had a litte bit of head and some carbonation. Didn't have as strong a smell as expected since 8% - actually seemed a little weak. The taste however did have a bit. I'm not real big on the high alcohol beers so this one only gets an OK rating. Good for getting a quick buzz but won't be searching it out. Worth a try just to say you had but buy 1 not a 6-pack. (2, NA, ML, N)

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Photo of Blakaeris
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours murky brown-copper, moderate carbonation, and an impressive head that slowly dissipates to a thin film.

Smell is sweet and malty, dark fruit and alcohol.

Taste is dominated by the caramel maltiness. Dark fruit and alcohol astringency still have a presence, but they are joined by an earthy, woody flavor and hints of spices.

Mouthfeel is medium with very little carbonation and a slightly oily feel.

In my opinion this is not a Belgian Dark, but instead would more comfortably fit under the Old Ale category. However, that doesn't mean it's not an exceptional beer. Very tasty and interesting.

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - this DFH offering pours a cherry cola reddish brown with a yellowish tan head that laces slowly, moderate carbonation, but no sediment is visible

S - hmm...i expected this to smell darker, but the raisin aroma is much lighter and golden, very inviting, you can definitely tell that the raisin's are golden

T - wow, what balance, a dark sweetness that finishes with a smoky bitterness, the raisin sweetness is smooth, man this is tasty

M - again, very smooth with a bitter finish that balances it out nicely

D - high, this brew is balanced, smooth, palatable, a fine brew

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 51.7% out of 100 with 4,300 ratings
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